The original beach rooms come in pairs, sharing a circular, thatched rondavel. Privacy is maintained on the verandah due to a dividing fence. However, the neighbouring rondavels are just a few metres away. The rooms which were once an average size now seem relatively small, although the curved shape is a welcome change from rectangle of most rooms and the Angsana style makes for a distinctive, fresh and attractive interior.
A walled garden has been added to the rear to offer more private space and a jacuzzi and rain shower. This is valuable and attractive when you are inside but walking through the island you are faced with rectangles of conrete that detract from the soft, round thatched originals. 18 Pool Villas have also been built that take further from the small island but, again, these are great spaces to live in for your holiday, especially the wide deck around the big pool.
The beach is very good, soft and wide, although as it moves naturally around the island there can be erosion problems for the pool villas in particular at certain times of the year. There is some snorkeling in the lagoon that will more than satisfy beginners but no access from the beach to the drop off. With the building of the water villas, however, there is now access to another part of the housereef that was inaccessible before. Guests can simply take one of the ferries that go every hour, walk to one end of the water villas, climb down steps into the water and drift slowly to the far end to climb back up more steps. And the viewing is very good, with plenty of jacks, tunas and other pelagics and clouds of red-toothed trigger fish.
Although the snorkeling area is not very long, it is uncrowded because most of the water villas are taken by Chinese guests who tend not to be strong swimmers and prefer to investigate the coral blocks and coral frames that have been laid in the lagoon. For this reason the dive base is not nearly as busy as it once was, although the many well-documented sites are still there ready to be enjoyed. The watersports centre, on the other hand, is busier than most and boasts a huge range of non-motored and motored equipment.
About two thirds of the guests are from China and another 10 percent from Hong Kong and Korea. Almost all come on a bed and breakfast basis and this can lead to a quiet restaurant where sometimes set plates are prepared rather than buffets. This, however, is often a better way to dine as the chefs can focus their skills on a particular menu.Over on the water villa resort the Azzurro restaurant and bar is a terrific place that opens out to the deck above the sea and serves excellent mediterranean fare, which you can taste in a Chinese style if you wish.
The water villa resort is not only separated from the island by water but also by price. This is a Maldives holiday towards the top end of the market. The villas are the tallest water rooms in the country with, at the very top, your own massage sala or private dining location with great views. The interior of the villas are wide rather than long and the use of dividers can split the living area from the bed space and from the bath area. Each villa has a swimming pool which is attractive, although as the rooms are in a row, you can’t be too concerned about not being seen.The service is excellent here as we have come to expect from Banyan Tree and Angsana. Everyone is full of smiles and always willing to help with anything.